Being an Eighties child, I grew up in the arcades. Going to Southend on a special occasion (like my birthday), and finding a new game to play is memories I'm fond of. So, imagine that, when you're 6 years old, and you first clap eyes on an After Burner upright machine (that works!!) and you hear the music for the first time, makes uyou rush over and plop a 10p coin in its waiting slot. Now, imagine that, in 2008 roughly, you go to the same arcade with your missus, only to find that most machines are fruities or light gun games. But, in the corner of your eye, you spot a sit down cabinet that was released 2 years previous. Not only is it a sit down cabinet, but one of a sequel to a game you loved 20 years ago. Yep, After Burner Climax was that machine. And after putting a quid (!!!) into the slot, all those memories of that wet Sunday afternoon came flooding back. And when it was announced that it was coming to XBLA and PSN, I made sure I had points ready and waiting. And, boy, was I not dissapointed.
The first thing that hits you when you load it up after downloading, is the title screen. It has the same rotating orbs like in After Burner. So, thats an immediate plus point from me. You get a choice of modes, like Score Attack, Arcade and so forth. But, the meat is the amount of unlockables you get for certain things in Arcade mode, which get unlocked in EX Mode. Here, you turn on and off those options you unlock, like 6 lives per credit, 6 credits, and loads more (like automatic machine gun...just like the home versions of the original arcade game :D).
Gameplay wise, its classic After Burner through and through. You fly, you speed up, you barrel roll, you shoot, you get shot down. And it still plays fairly well after all this time, with the option of taking down the sensitivity of the stick to stop you from doing barrel rolls every 2 seconds, which does help. One addition is the CLIMAX mode. When your meter has filled, you press a button and times slows down, giving you time to lock onto many targets at once and send them to oblivion. This adds a new dimension to an otherwise old game, and helps it brilliantly. It never feels like its been tacked on at the end and is an added benefit.
Graphics are what you'd expect. Highly detailed and very beautiful, including a level set at sunset and at nighttime over a bustling city. You even get to fly through a base at high speed and, even then is very detailed. The transition between each level is indicated by emerging cloud cover, and is an effect that works very well.
If there is any faults, it's the controls. Mainly the barrel roll, but thats easily sorted by taking down the sensitivity, so it isn't really an issue at all. If you're after pure, arcade blasting fun, while pretending to be Maverick from Top Gun, this is the After Burner sequel you've been waiting for (After Burner 3 on the Mega CD doesn't count because its just pure crap and is a renaming of G-Loc).
Get ready to feel the need....for speed!
9 1/2 - 10 JSW's Wowser award